Monday, August 17, 2009

WE ARE BETTER THAN THIS


I've never been cool enough to be a member of a club. I'm not white enough for a beach club, or rich enough for a tennis club. I'm not fit enough for a fitness club or boring enough for a golf club. Not smart enough for math club. I am, however, a member of an elite club that I have always felt worthy of. Today, I ended that affiliation.

For the past ten years I have been a proud card-carrying platinum member of The Costco Club.

When I joined it was an exclusive establishment. It meant something to belong. It boasted, although wealthy enough to shop retail, you were savvy enough to buy bulk.

One of my favorite escapes from the stresses of motherhood is Costco. I love Costco. I love the size of the warehouse. I enjoy the hard-to-open plastic packaging. Costco is chameleon-like, constantly changing its look. One day live lobsters are being sold from a giant tank. The very next day the giant tank…vanished. In its place, a trampoline. The wizardry of Costco amazes as me as only few things do. Namely, David Copperfield and Charo.

I've patronized Costcos all over the states. My favorite Costco is in Honolulu because, a) it's on the water and b) you can buy chocolate-covered macadamia nuts in 10 pound bags. People assume you are purchasing souvenirs for friends on the mainland when in fact you are purchasing a nutritious midday snack for yourself (to be eaten in secret so as not to reveal yourself to your husband as a pig person.)

I like to silently nod at the passersby while shopping at Costco. We may come from different walks of life, I may be wearing Hogan tennis shoes while they are in their Kirkwood-brand ripoffs, but we are all part of the brotherhood of Costco.

Sometimes I bring Van. It’s a treat for him, allowing him into my Zen place. He is always dazzled by Costco's wonderment, sitting high atop the cart pointing and grunting. I don’t bring Van often because I don’t want to spoil him. Costco is a privilege not a right. Like Disneyland, and Sizzler.

I enjoy the fact that Costco only takes American Express. Good for you Costco. Because that premium you pay keeps out the riff raf. Or does it?

Today started badly.

I put Van down for his nap and was given a list of things I “needed” to purchase from my housekeeper. I don’t like to go to Costco with an agenda. I like to see where my cart leads me. Already it felt like a job.

I arrived at noon. I waited 30 minutes for a parking place and even then it was 400 steps away from the entrance door.

I was irritated from the get go.

The lady who stands at the entrance door, whose only task is to look at your membership card, didn’t ask to see mine. Instead, she sat on a stool making personal phone calls. It used to give me a sense of pride to flash my platinum membership card. Not just a plain old regular card. Platinum. This lady took away my pride. I do not know her personally but I think it’s fair to call her a worthless whore.

I was almost trampled over by a Vietnamese family who pushed their way past me. They were not asked for their membership cards. In fact no one was being carded. How is this a club if anyone is allowed in? This was not the Costco I knew and loved.

I entered but could barely navigate my cart around the troves of people hovering around the free samples. It was lunchtime. Every aisle ended with a different dish. Salsa and chips. Pot stickers. Teriyaki chicken. Energy drinks. It was a buffet for the penniless.

There is nothing worse than watching fat people fighting for free samples at Costco. This is not a judgement. This is a fact.

Costco is not a food bank. Costco is a high-end bulk food warehouse for the fiscally savvy. Had I wanted to try a frozen chimichanga, which I did but couldn't allow myself because of my abnormal fear of Hepatitis B, I should have been able to. It is my right as a club member to try a frozen chimichanga. But the lines were obscene and I wait in line for nothing. (except Sprinkles Cupcakes and Pink’s Hot dogs.)

I purchased my requirements. Toilet Paper. Paper Towels. Tide Free. Yuban coffee. And then I made a few impulse buys. Socks in bulk. Wrapping paper. Sensor balls for Van. Nicholas Sparks’ The Lucky One. A greeting card maker. A food saver, and flashlights. I toyed with buying a giant birthday cake and eating it in the car on the way home, but decided against it. I regret that decision.

As I was paying for my purchases, I struck up a conversation with the cashier. She asked me how I was feeling. I told her, “Not great.” I explained that my shopping experience had not been what I had come to expect at Costco. “Well, at least you look beautiful. You’re glowing from the pregnancy.” she said.

And now I'd like to take a moment and praise Mirabelle of check-out lane four. She is a genius.

When she asked me my due date, I lied. I told Mirabelle I was overdue. That I was 10 months pregnant and ready to blow. She couldn’t believe it. Mirabelle went on and on about how great I looked. How petite. She told me that I looked like a million bucks. Which is funny because I suspect I do look like a million bucks, only at times the mirror in my bedrooms betrays me.

I was feeling good. Mirabelle was more than a check-out clerk. She was my friend and a reminder of why I was a platinum member of this exclusive and prestigious food club.

And then a woman in a motorized wheelchair rammed me over. I turned around to give her a chance to apologize. I wasn’t hurt, but she didn’t know it so I dropped to the ground and moaned in agony. " Watch where you're going." She yelled at me. She yelled at ME. The Victim. Laying on the floor like a beached whale. She may have been limbless but I'm pregnant. I'm a frickin miracle maker. She's just a woman with no legs and bad hair. Was she even a member? Had she rolled in by mistake? Today this woman would get none of my clubhouse decorum or niceties. I summoned up the energy and wisdom of my mother who always knows the appropriate passive aggressive thing to say in a situation.

“I'm so sorry. What a fool I am. I didn't realize how much space your little machine took up. It’s hard for me to see anything passed my belly being 10 months pregnant. Does anyone have a Band-Aid? It seems I'm bleeding from this woman's scooter attack.” She scooted off in a huff. She had purchased nothing, but in her mobile-chair were remnants of free samples.

And that sealed the deal. I don't need to come into my club only to be run over by non-members and hungry freaks.

I took my carload of crap home and showed Van my purchases. He enjoyed the balls and flashlight but seemed confused with yet another bag of socks. We turned on our go-to song, Abba’s Super Trouper, and danced the day away.

We are not club people. We are free thinkers. We are better than that.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Music Class and Nazi Children


While pregnant, a dormant judgmental gene takes over my brain. When I see a fat pregnant person I think, "Yikes, what a fatty. Cool it on the carbs." When I see a skinny pregnant person, I think, "How pathetic and vain can you get? Eat something for the child." The only person I know who is totally perfect is me. I do everything right. I always have. By the way, I'm fat.

Today was the most miserable in a series of miserable baby music classes. Our music class is a baby social club set to insufferable tunes of yesteryear. At times I look at Van and think I spy a hint of contempt for his classmates. They whine. They moan. They do not possess Van and my natural singing ability. We relate to no one and are above the class. However we can't stop going because then people would judge me as a bad mother who does not socialize her child.

Music class is run by Miss Alice, a 30-something tone-deaf hippy who eerily resembles Olive Oil and refuses to wear a bra. She has what can only be described as a sexual crush on Van. I don't blame her. Van's hot. But it's a little creepy. Creepier is that Van indulges her fantasies with coy looks and open mouth kisses.

Miss Alice has the kind of sympathetic personality that makes me want to vomit. When she says hello it's with underlying feelings of apology. "Hi" really sounds like, "Hi, I'm so sorry you're fat. That must be hard."

Van's classmates include but are not limited to, Willow, a sexually progressive two year old who dislikes undergarments. Julia, an 18-month-old boy/girl. A fat kid named Lincoln. Bobby, a little African Boy who was recently adopted into a wealthy white family and is brought to class by his nanny. He is three and doesn't understand English. We like him. He thinks music class is ridiculous too.

There is one child that I am fascinated with. His name is Ariel and he is a recent transplant from Germany.

Ariel is always accompanied by his identical twin father. Did I mention Ariel is a boy? Cuz I wouldn't want you to get confused and think he was a red-headed mermaid.

Ariel has a mop of blond hair and speaks with a German accent. "Nein" is his favorite word. I instantly disliked Ariel and his father. They're too clean. Too precise. Too stiff when singing "Old Brass Vaw-gon." They do not enjoy the free dance portion of class. When we sing "Edelweiss", they go into a kind of trance. I silently labeled them post WW2 Nazis. Strangely, Ariel will start at the Jewish Community Center for pre-school come fall, but I just assume that's a guilt thing. I am not fooled. I am too savvy.


Today when Ariel's out-of-work Nazi father asked me how I was feeling I gave him my standard answer. "Huge. I'm feeling fat and huge." Now anyone with a brain knows that when a fat person admits to being fat the only thing to say is, "Come on. You look amazing." But the German out-of-work Nazi father looked me up and down and said, "Yes. But you vill lose it." And it was more of a military command than a wishful thought.

I like to make people think I'm nice and genuinely interested in them while silently judging. It's sort of my thing. There is a pregnant mother in class who I glance to occasionally in camaraderie. Like, if it's hot in the room I look over to her, roll my eyes and wave my hands in front of my face to say, "Can you stand the heat?" What I'm really thinking is, "If I'm hot then you must be dying cause you are Shamu fat."

Today after class we got to talking. I learned a lot of things I didn't care about. Her daughter Maddy is exceptionally bright and is being potty trained at 18-months. Maddy is also an early talker and walker. No one can believe how advanced she is.

****And here is where I must remind parents that no one is interested in how smart your child is. We all think that our child is the smartest and the cutest and the best. At the end of the day Van is so much more exceptional than your child. Please don't waste your breath.****

I tried to change the subject and asked when she was due. Ironically we're due on the same day. October 17th. Suddenly, I felt thin and beautiful because I'm huge, but she's bigger. And for a solid five minutes I was lording my body over hers. I needed a cupcake. I pranced around the un-air conditioned music room like a waif.

She then announced she was carrying triplets. I dislike Maddy's mom immensely.

Next week is the final class in our summer session of music class. There's part of me that will miss it. It will be two months before the fall session begins and by then I'll have another incredibly gifted, above-average child. Ariel, along with many others, will be starting pre-school and won't be in our class. Miss Alice is hanging up her maracas and pursuing her solo career. Next term will be me, my exceptional children, our like-minded African friend Bobby and fresh meat to judge and ridicule. I can't wait.